Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Without words - Street Photography



You don't need to travel far for great photos

Nikon D300, 8mm Fisheye, f/11, 30 Seconds ISO 200
L.A.'s fine, the sun shines most of the time, and feeling is laid back.  Palm trees grow, and rents are low, but you know I keep thinking about finding my way back - Neil Diamond (I Am, I Said)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Queen Mary - July 4th 2011

Nikon D200, 35mm, f/8, 20 seconds ISO 100
My post yesterday of the Queen Mary reminded me of last year's Fourth of July outing to Long Beach.  Here is the regal ship from her most famous angle, and in the beautiful light of dusk.

Monday, May 28, 2012

From the Archives - Union Station

Union Station Los Angeles was opened in 1939 and became known as The Last of the Great Railway Stations.  It is always a treat to come here to sit in the lobby and pretend to chat with Arturo Bandini - he dreaming of becoming a world renowed writer, and I becoming hypnotized by the peacful light.



Queen Mary - Memorial Day 2012

Nikon D300, 35mm f/9, 1/320th, ISO 100
The Queen Mary now permanently docked at the port of Long Beach in Los Angeles County carried thousands of U.S. troops between New York and Britain during World War II.  She now serves as a museum, hotel, and is home to many restaurants. Too many she evokes memories of the Titanic.  In fact, the Queen Mary was larger than the Titanic, however, the doomed ship had an extra non operating smoke stack which makes it appear longer. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cloudy Dusk Hollywood - Street Photography

Nikon D300, Nikkor 35mm G, f/1.8, 1/30th, ISO 800
I have been under an intense amount of stress lately.  Although it was cloudy tonight, I still wanted to relax my mind behind the lens. I live for the blue in the sky at dusk; it is my happy place. I patiently waited for my rendevouz with the light, like a young lover waiting for his girl. Here is a shot from Hollywood and Vine of the Redbury Building, and of the Capitol Records tower across the street. Both were shot with a plus one expsoure compensation to capture the blue that was still trapped in the sky.


Nikon D300, Nikkor 35mm G, f/1.8, 1/50th, ISO 800



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happy Birthday to me - Ahh the Colors

Nikon D300, Nikkor 24mm 2.8 AFD, ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/40th +3 Exp Comp.
The 24mm 2.8 AFD has been one of my favorite lens for years.  I went out at dusk today to celebrate my birthday.  I was rewarded with this great shot. I have been moving toward a priority setting and using exposure compensation rather than full manual mode as I have for years.  I find that the exposure compensation makes things a little faster.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pershing Square - Film Scan from the Archives

May 2001 - FujiFilm Sensia
One of the joys of shooting with slide film was the reward of seeing the tiny mounted slide for the first time.  I would drop off my film to be processed at A&I in Hollywood , go grab a bit on La Brea and return in four hours. Laying the slides out on their light table and inspecting them with my loupe was like unwrapping gifts at Christmas.  People all over the world would send their film here for processing using their prepaid mailers. Sadly, A&I stopped E6 processing in December of last year.  Now if I shoot film, it's black and white, and processed at home.

Randy's Donuts

January 2011 - Nikon D200, f/8, 3.2 sec ISO 100
Rany's Donuts is a Los Angeles icon.  It is located on Manchester Blvd. about four miles from the Los Angeles International Airport.  When I was a struggling student living on my own, I lived close to it.  I remember one penny pinching night walking there to buy what would be my "groceries" for a few days to tie me over before my next paycheck.  My menu... a dozen glazed donuts for $3.99. It's not situated in a particularly nice part of town. So, when I went back to shoot this many many years later, I rushed the photo. Of course, I bought a dounut and hot coffee, then asked the attendant if she would let me take a photo of the building

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Emotional Painkillers

April 2010 - Nikon D80, ISO 100, f/8, 4.5 sec
My most effective emotional painkillers are a cold metal camera, and the sound of tumbling waves (I will leave out the glass of Merlot and a cigarette). This is my happy place when things start to go awry - Venice Beach.

Fish out of water - Street Photography

March 2012 - Nikon D200, 8mm fisheye, f/8, 1/500th, ISO 400
The Fisheye lens is a challenging lens to use for street photography.  With 180 degrees of field view you have to be carefull not to include your foot in the frame ( I cropped it out here - I must admit). Exposure is also a challenge.  This is an all manual lens so it requires you to take your time and think.  



Yes, I am addicted to Dusk

April 2012 - Nikon D200, f/1.8, 1/125th, ISO 400
Dusk is my favorite time of day for shooting. I had been wanting to get a shot of the Farmer's market clock at this time for years.  I went out to dinner at The Grove this day and carried only the Nikkor 50mm 1.8 AFS.  Tripods are not allowed at The Grove so the fast glass really came in handy.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Break on through - Street Photography


May 2012 - Nikon D300. ISO 200, f/6.3, 1/60th

Michael Landon's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is on Vine Street in front the the Chase bank.  The roots of a tree are ripping through the concrete and have broken his star.  Angelenos may trip and fall on this section of the sidewalk, as they simply brisk past it with one eye on their iphone, and the other on their latte.  Tourist, however, are not at risk; they walk slowly inspecting every single star.

Vicious Vespa - Street Photography

May 2012 - Nikon D300, f/9, 1/320th, ISO 200
I am a studio photographer, so any situations that involve fast movement is not truly second nature to me.  However, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone when I say this couple on a Vespa waiting at a stop light at Hollywood and Vine.  I let my left thumb glide to switch the servo mode to continuous, moved my right thumb to switch the AF area to Dynamic while peering through the viewfinder in anticipation.  When the light turned green, off went racing the vicious Vespa.  I mean, look at the fierce look on the face of the Terminator as he carries Sarah Conner away.  I panned for about ten shots at 7 fps and stopped once the front wheel crossed the finish line.  The only thing missing in the shot would be a flying scarf to put the finishing touch on the driver's motley ensemble. 

Preston Lacy - Street Photography


Caught Preston Lacy (of Jackass fame) taking a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard.  You can often see him out and about on one of his many bikes.  I had a drink with him last year at Big Wang's on Cahuenga.  Ironically, it was the day after I saw Jackass 3D at the Arclight.  Great down to earth guy.


Meeting of the Minds - Street Photography


May 2012 - Nikon D300 ISO 200, f/5, +1 Exp. Comp.

I've decided to try and make Sundays my Street Photography walk around day.  The idea is to refine my composition even further, and put off a few of my extra pounds.  Hopefully, I can stick to it. 

Rainbow over the Potala Palace

April 2010 - Nikon D80, ISO 200, f/8, 1/1000 40mm
I had only been shooting for about a year in 2002 when National Geographic Photographer Galen Rowell passed away.  I had not heard of him until I saw his image of the Rainbow over the Potala Palace on the front page of the L.A. Times.  The story was about his sudden death in a plane crash. 

His work, and his humble and simple approach to photography became my inspiration. I later read in one of his books "The Spirit of Adventure" how he captured that shot.  He talked about how he saw the rainbow landing far from the palace and envisioned it landing on the palace.  He had to run a far distance to line up the elements in his viewfinder.  This anecdote became one of my fundamental pillars when approaching the composition of my photos. 

In the photo above, I had taken about a dozen shots of the ferris wheel. Then I pictured the roller coaster passing by it in my mind.  I walked around the wheel for several minutes until I found the perfect spot.  Then I timed the release of the coaster car based on the screams of the riders.  I waited for the perfect moment, then Bingo!

In the image below, I saw the limo on Hollywood boulevard travelling westbound about a block away from the theatre.  Here I acted much quicker since my camera was still in my bag.  I mentally chose 2.8 and ISO 400 before reaching for my camera.  I quickly realized that the sky would not be the blue I love, and therefore reselected ISO 800 rather than a slower shutter speed. At 1/20th of a second I barely squeezed in a speed close to my focal lenght.  I waited for a few cars to pass out of my frame before snapping the shutter. 

September 2010 - Nikon D80 Nikkor 28mm 2.8 AFD. ISO 800 f/2.8 1/20th
  

Follow the leader

September 2010 - Nikon D80 / 70-300 VR, ISO 1000 f/5, 1/125th, Spot Metering
This was shot from the grandstands at the L.A. County Fair Rodeo. The row of palms trees was a fair distance away (don't ask me how far, I am very bad with distances).  I spot metered on the head of one of the palms in order to expose for a silhouette and released the shutter when I saw the VR settle the image in my viewfinder.  The f/5 selection was actually a compromise, but I knew that I would have the benefit of at least one less shutter speed stop afforded by the VR. I have since sold that lens in favor of the 80-200 2.8, but must admit that I occasionally miss the VR.

Your best equipment is your mind.



October 2005 - FujiFilm Sensia 100
 
The photo above took weeks to create.  I was working on seventh floor of a ten story building just west of downtown about a block from Loyola Law School.  The skyscraper on the left side of the image is 1100 Wilshire, and it was vacant at the time.  The lights were therefore always off.  When the sun would set and night fell, my photos of the skyline were cursed with 1100 being completely dark.  Through weeks of observing and writing down the times of the sunset and dusk, I determined that I had only a five minute window to get the shot you now see.  

The shot started in my mind, in my dreams, many years prior. When the time was right, I rushed to the roof with my Nikon N80, my trusty 50mm 1.8 AFD, and a Manfrotto Tripod.  In all, I had only about $400 worth of equipment, plus a roll of FujiFilm Sensia.  Even though I have been blessed with now being able to have much more expensive, and sophisticated gear, it is this shot that constantly reminds me that my best equipment is my mind, my vision, and God's talent.